The Crossroads of Time by Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Crossroads of Time by Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Crossroads of Time by Andre Norton

Recently, Tantor Audio has been releasing audiobook editions of many of Andre Norton’s stories which have been combined in omnibus editions originally published by Baen Books. I’ve been reviewing each novel separately because that’s our preference here at Fantasy Literature, but I love that readers can purchase these relatively short novels in cost-effective omnibus editions, and I am especially pleased that these stories are finally available in audiobook format.

Crosstime contains two stories about Blake Walker, an orphan who doesn’t know where he comes from and has an uncanny ability to sense imminent danger. In the first story, The Crossroads of Time, which was originally published in 1956, Blake is shaving when he gets a sudden and overwhelming urge to open his front door just as his neighbor is being assaulted. He soon learns that this is no ordinary crime — he has witnessed the activities of men who can travel across parallel Earths.

The neighbor and his colleagues belong to an organization that regulates world-hopping and is trying to stop a criminal mastermind from finding an Earth that he can conquer and set himself up as the evil tyrant he wants to be. With his precognitive abilities, Blake fits right in and wonders if he came from the same parallel Earth that his new colleagues came from — a place where the fallout from atomic war gave people psionic powers.

The Crossroads of Time by Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsSoon, Blake is sucked into a nonstop adventure that’s full of surprises and danger. It involves chasing down leads, traveling between alternate Earths, hiding out in various safe houses (those were really cool), getting stranded on unfamiliar worlds, killing robotic enemies, and making new friends on other Earths where history went differently (such as, for example, Hitler winning the Battle of Britain, or a pandemic wiping out a huge proportion of the population). In Andre Norton’s stories, there’s usually an animal that plays an important role and, in The Crossroads of Time, it’s a cute kitten.

Despite dealing with some real-world history and speculating about how our own history could easily have gone differently, The Crossroads of Time is not very deep. It’s a typical Nortonesque yarn with an interesting premise followed by a breakneck-paced hazardous escapade.

When the adventure is over, Blake realizes the importance of the mission and is ready to sign up. They must stop the bad guy from destroying other worlds. We’ll hear about Blake’s next adventure in the second novel, Crosstime Quest, which is also available in the Crosstime omnibus by Baen/Tantor. Graham Rowat gives a nice retro-sounding performance in Tantor’s audiobook edition which is 12 hours long (for both books).

Published in 1956. When Blake Walker foiled a murder attempt on one of his neighbors he somehow found himself drafted into a frantic chase for a dangerous criminal – through the almost infinite levels of alternate Earths. It was a chase that would take him through level upon level of unknown dangers in search of a ruthless genius who had found our Earth the perfect place to begin his series of conquests. If Walker succeeded, he would save Earth. If he failed, his homeworld could be enslaved, and he could be trapped on an alien Earth!


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.